With summer allegedly not too far away, people will start looking forward to warmer weather and holidays. However, with the ever-increasing use of the internet and people taking responsibility for booking individual parts of their holidays, such as flights, transfers and accommodation, not only has there been a corresponding reduction in the number of travel agency services seen on the High Street, but also a reduction in the applicability of “The Package Travel Regulations 1992” when things go wrong.
No one goes on holiday with the thought of what their rights will be should things go wrong and for the majority their holiday is a thoroughly enjoyable experience. However, what is the recourse for those who suffer an injury whilst on holiday abroad? For the most part, the possibility of bringing a successful claim for compensation for personal injuries outside England is remote, but can the injured party pursue the claim through the English Courts? Much of this will depend upon whether The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 apply. If the 1992 Regulations apply, the injured party is afforded the opportunity to pursue a claim through the English Courts against the tour operator who sold the holiday package.
The Regulations make it very clear that the tour operator is responsible for the proper performance of the holiday contract entered into, notwithstanding the fact that the tour operator (better known as a travel agent) does not directly supply the service. For example, if a person were to fall from a balcony in Turkey and sustain significant injury, and the holiday fell within the definition of a package holiday for the purpose of the Regulations, the party is able to bring a claim within the UK against the tour operator, notwithstanding the accident was outside the UK.
A package within the Regulations is a pre-arranged combination of at least two of the following components when sold or offered for sale at an inclusive price and when the service covers a period of more than twenty-four hours or includes overnight accommodation:-
- other tourist services not ancillary to transport or accommodation and accounting for a significant proportion of the package.
For the most part this covers holidays sold in holiday brochures, but does extend to some packages offered on specialist websites. However it can be a problem for those who have individually arranged their dream holiday. If something does go wrong, there may be no recourse, save for under the law of the country in which the accident occurred. In practical terms this may prove difficult.
It is however important to be aware that the health and safety standards of the relevant country take precedence and these can often be very different to those applied in the UK. It does not matter whether a claim is brought directly against the service provider in the country in question, or under the Regulations, a claim will fail if it is shown that the relevant health and safety standards of the relevant country have been met.
Consequently such cases can be complicated. Not only is it necessary to consider in the first instance whether there is claim to be brought under the 1992 Regulations and therefore in the UK, but also to consider the safety standards of the country in question. That being said the 1992 Regulations afford the “package” traveller the right of a potential claim, as against those travellers who prefer to arrange their own bespoke holiday.